Red Salt, Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort’s signature restaurant, is the four-time recipient of Honolulu Magazine’s Hale ‘Aina awards for best Kauai restaurant. At Red Salt, you’ll find modern plates of fresh Hawaiian seafood creatively paired with flavorful, local produce. At the helm is Kauai native Executive Chef Noelani Planas, a student of Michael Mina, Wolfgang Puck and Joël Robuchon.
“I want to offer something different that nobody has anywhere else on the island,” she says of the restaurant’s offerings. In addition to dinner, Red Salt features an evening sushi bar Tuesday through Saturday, as well as a daily breakfast buffet and an early bird menu of made-to-order dishes.
Here, Planas shares her inspiration and favorite dishes.
WHAT MADE YOU TO WANT TO BE A CHEF?
“I loved being in the kitchen. My mom was strict growing up, and we weren’t allowed to go into the kitchen while she was cooking, so I was always curious as to what she was doing.”
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR CREATIONS?
“I take things that I’ve learned over the years and how I grew up in the islands and put them onto a plate. My inspiration comes from a lot of old school chefs and techniques, and I put a modern twist.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE LOCAL INGREDIENTS?
“Vegetables locally grown like salad greens, mushrooms and root vegetables.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE DISHES AT THE RESTAURANT?
“The mahi mahi is one because it has a lot of flavor and is well balanced. The forbidden black rice is infused with ginger, lemongrass and coconut milk. The mahi mahi is seared and finished with a vanilla butter, mango vinaigrette.”
WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO MAKE AT HOME?
“Honestly … a good ribeye steak medium rare! Roasted Brussels sprouts with applewood smoked bacon.”
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